‘Oumuamua’s Structure Reexamined: New Study Reveals Significant Details


There’s a non-ending debate over the molecular structure and origins of ‘Oumuamua, and scientists’ work is incredibly puzzling. Things, however, are about to change.

A study published by Seligman & Laughlin in 2020 suggests that if the interstellar object were a hydrogen iceberg, then the pure hydrogen gas that made it look like a rocket would have escaped detection.

But, then the scientists from the CfA (the Center for Astrophysics I Harvard & Smithsonian) and the KASI (the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute) wanted to know whether a hydrogen-based space object actually has made the trip from interstellar space to our solar system. They found new intriguing yet promising details. Here is what you need to know.

New Details About ‘Oumuamua’s Molecular Structure Have Been Unveiled

Moving at an incredible speed of 196,000mph in 2017, ‘Oumuamua was initially classified as an asteroid. Then, scientists observed how it sped up and decided that the interstellar object has properties more akin to comets. The 0.2km radius, however, didn’t allow the interstellar object to remain in that category either. And this is how things started to get confusing.

Scientists focused on the GMC W51, a giant molecular cloud as a potential origin for ‘Oumuamua, but hypothesize that it couldn’t have made the trip intact. Dr. Avi Loeb released a statement: “Thermal sublimation by collisional heating in GMCs could destroy molecular hydrogen icebergs of ‘Oumuamua-size before their escape into the interstellar medium.”

Dr. Loeb’s conclusion doesn’t agree with the theory that ‘Oumuamua traveled to our solar system from a GMC, and it also precludes the proposition of primordial snowballs as dark matter. Evaporative cooling in such cases doesn’t reduce the role of thermal sublimation by starlight in the consumption of H2 ice objects. 

While the structure of the ‘Oumuamua is currently a mystery, Dr. Loeb says that it won’t remain like this for much longer. He’s waiting for more data from the Vera C. Rubin Observatory to find more details about the interstellar object. 

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